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New ski and snow lab aims to generate Swedish medals

Published: 8 February 2021

Luleå University of Technology and The Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) initiate a collaboration on technical research for performance development in sports.
– In a first step, we create a new innovative and dynamic ski and snow lab to produce the world's fastest skis, says HC Holmberg, SOC's head of research and development and new adjunct professor at Luleå University of Technology.

The collaboration between the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) and Luleå University of Technology has great potential with a unique combination of high-quality research on snow, materials and friction as well as practical application in the same venture.
– Unique knowledge in tribology makes it possible to much better understand how friction should be minimized, says HC Holmberg.

The new collaboration has three main areas: performance technology, performance analysis and material optimization. The focus is on using new technology research for sports, both individual sports and team sports.
– The first part of the investment includes ski technology, increased knowledge and development of skis, coatings, structure and waxing – but also the connection between technology and performance. For example, measurements with sensors can increase knowledge of how a skier can perform to the maximum depending on conditions and equipment, says Roland Larsson, professor of machine elements at Luleå University of Technology.

Accessible to the national waxing teams

The ski and snow lab also includes a new measuring point for the practical application and a new facility for waxing and grinding of skis at Lindbäcksstadion in Piteå. The former wax technician for the Swedish cross-country national team, Rikard Larsson, will be the new head for the new facility. The waxing teams for the national teams in biathlon and cross-country skiing are part of the initiative and will have access to the facility.
– SOC's and Luleå University of Technology's investment in technology and skiing is extremely positive. We are very strong in materials already today, but for the future World Cups and Olympics we will be the best, says Rikard Grip, Secretary General of the Swedish Biathlon Federation.

Daniel Fåhraeus, head of cross-country skiing at the Swedish Ski Association, hopes that the research initiative will contribute to new, sustainable solutions that help Sweden to remain one of the world's foremost cross-country ski nations.
– The new collaboration is very positive. The development in both materials and training is going fast, and this investment is important for Sweden to be at the forefront and continue to be able to drive cross-country skiing forward in today's razor-sharp competition, he says.

"Strengthens sports science"

Luleå University of Technology's Vice-Chancellor Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn says is proud of the new collaboration with SOC:
– To be involved in strengthening sports science and the athletes' work with performance development is interesting and exciting. We have strong research groups in materials science, tribology, physiotherapy and artificial intelligence, which form a foundation for the new interdisciplinary areas we are developing together with the Swedish Olympic Committee, says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn.

In addition to research and development, the new collaboration also includes student recruitment and development of new forms of education and learning. Luleå University of Technology was last year appointed to an elite sports-friendly university by The Swedish Sports Federation. Former national cross-country team manager Joakim Abrahamsson is the leader and coach for elite sports at Luleå University of Technology, with a special focus on cross-country skiing, biathlon and ski orienteering.